tv Focus on Europe PBS December 14, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
♪ christopher: a very warm welcome to "focus on europe," the programme that brings you the human stories behind the headlines and puts this fascinating continent into perspective. my name's christopher springate. this week, we find out, among other things, why climate change is threatening french wine. also coming up over the next half-hour -- the young syrian refugees who are falling prey to islamist radicals. the spanish village trying to shake off a history of nuclear contamination. and the us tanks causing irritation among pro-moscow bulgarians. when we ask our children about their dreams -- more often than not, their eyes light up as they paint an optimistic picture of the future.
but ask the same question of the children who've fled syria's civil war, and you'll be faced with eyes gone blank. the hundreds of thousands of syrian children in turkey for instance. a generation at risk, with many unable to attend school and forced to work long hours to sustain themselves. it's partly with them in mind that the european union struck a deal with turkey last weekend, worth at lea it's aimed at raising the living standards of refugees there and getting their children back to school. this, as signs grow that radicals belonging to the so-called islamic state are beginning to recruit some of those young refugees. this street corner is abbas' turf. for the past three years, he's been coming here every day with his shoe shine kit to wait for customers. he earns around a euro for each pair of shoes. abbas is just fourteen, but isn't attending school. he has to help support his family.
>> two of my brothers died in the civil war. then my family fled syria. our rent is about 250 euros. how would we pay that if i went to school? reporter: abbas is one of tens of thousands of syrian refugee children in istanbul who spend their days on the streets. many are alone here, after becoming separated from their parents during their flight. the children are easy prey for criminals -- and increasingly for radical islamists, as well. in this video, human rights activists filmed arabic-speaking men trying to take syrian orphans away -- allegedly to a koran school. but it's more likely that they were trying to recruit the boys to fight for islamic state. the witnesses intervened and called the police -- just in time.
in istanbul, police recently investigated a koran school for syrian and turkish children. a branch of i.s. was said to be operating out of the same building. several arrests were made, but the koran classes are still being held. >> i saw the police raid, where they arrested a supposed member of i.s. but i'm sure that has nothing to do with the koran school. they're good people. reporter: but in this neighborhood parents are alarmed. even the most religiously conservative are afraid of i.s. >> they call it a koran class. first they give the children regular religious instruction and then they brainwash them. we don't send our children there anymore.
reporter: shaza barakat says independent schools are the only way to keep children out of koran classes run by i.s and their sympathizers. just one in three syrian refugee children in turkey attends an independent school. barakat was a educator in syria, and runs one of the few schools for refugees in istanbul. the turkish authorities have tolerated her school, but provided little by way of active support. barakat now hopes to receive some of the promised financial aid from the eu. without access to education, refugee children are vulnerable to radicalization -- as barakat knows. >> my son omar went back to syria to fight, because he couldn't go to school here in istanbul. he joined the rebels and was killed. he was just 16 years old. two weeks later i opened this school, but unfortunately it was too late for my son.
without schooling, many refugee children will develop a hatred of the west and start getting bad ideas. reporter: joining the i.s terror group is out of the question for abbas, and his friends. but he says he's also been approached by men who were recruiting for islamic state. >> a syrian man came to me. he asked if i'd cross over the border with him to fight. he told me he had lots of money. but i told him i don't want to fight. then i pointed him out to a policeman and they arrested him. reporter: i.s is likely to keep sending recruiters here to try their luck. for them, the young syrian refugees on the streets of istanbul are easy prey.
christopher: our next report takes us to a small fishing village on the spanish riviera. like many others there, it's sunny, picturesque and relaxed. but this particular village, palomares, is different-- it's the site of one of the worlds worst nuclear accidents. hardly anyone remembers it. but almost fifty years ago, in 1966, an american aircraft carrying four nuclear bombs collided in mid-air with a tanker plane. one of its bombs fell into the sea, but the other three hit the ground in palomares. now those bombs hadn't been primed, so they didn't explode. but two of their detonators did go off, spreading radioactive plutonium across the landscape. at the time, the contaminated soil was removed. but recent tests have revealed fresh traces of radioactivity -
-- so spain and the us have agreed to organise another clean-up. the locals however aren't too happy. they'd much prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. reporter: in palomares, the weekly gymnastics class for seniors is where the older generation meets up. many of them experienced the crash of the american b-52 bomber almot 50 years ago -- but no longer want to talk about it. they say that, ever since the incident, their village has been wrongly cast in a bad light. >> in palomares people are full of energy and love to dance. they've eaten lots of healthy fruit, because agriculture has always flourished here. the sun shines and we have wonderful beaches. people should come here to enjoy our region. not to criticize the thing with the bombs, because that scares tourists away. reporter: but for many villagers, there's no getting away from the past.
every day, maria flores passes by the restricted area. here, in the middle of the village, the soil is contaminated with plutonium. residents have been waiting for years for the site to be cleaned up. now 83, flores was pregnant back in january of 1966. that was when a us b-52 bomber collied with an aerial refueling tanker and crashed over palomares. >> what an explosion! i though everything was going up in flames and that we'd all be burned alive. i ran over here and collapsed in fear. i was dizzy with fear. i was half dead. i thought, it's the end of the world, it's all over. ave maria! reporter: the fishing village and most of andalusia narrowly avoided a major nuclear
disaster. the b-52's four hydrogen bombs didn't detonate, but two of the weapons scattered highly radioactive plutonium when they hit the ground. environmentalist marcos diéguez believes the handling of this nuclear incident -- one of the most serious of the cold war -- is scandalous. he says both the americans and the spanish government downplayed the danger, and hoped the accident would soon be forgotten. but recent measurements at the crash site show that at least a half a kilo of plutonium is still irradiating the soil. that's more than in the area around chernobyl, the site 1986 nuclear disaster. but, until now, there's only one thing here keeping people out, a chain-link fence. environmental activists have filed an official compliant against the authorities in charge. >> our complaint is that they've left europe's biggest nuclear graveyard exposed for five decades and -- until just a few
years ago -- without any monitoring at all. it was open to anyone. these areas were used as farmland, as grazing land, and water reservoirs for farming were built here, even though they knew the soil was contaminated. reporter: to this day, vegetables are grown next to the restricted area. agriculture remains the region's most important source of income. but it's not just the peppers and snow peas that are regularly tested for radioactivity. this farmer herself travels to madrid once a year to undergo medical tests. but maria sabiote is no longer afraid of the routine check-up. she has faith in the statistics which, so far, don't indicate an elevated risk of cancer. >> we haven't had any babies born with deformities or other problems.
there's cancer here, just like in other places. but that's a problem around the world. reporter: it's market day in palomares. word has spread that thousands of tons of contaminated soil will be dug up and shipped to the u-s. -- u.s. some locals are skeptical, others are angry. >> they wanted to take the soil right away, but 50 years later it's still here. now they want to stir everything up again. my husband and i don't think much of that. many here are against it. reporter: but marcos diéguez says that further delays will only increase the danger. he believes that some of the contaminated soil has already been washed into the sea by the
rain and wind. >> some studies found that radioactivity in this part of the mediterranean is 20 times higher than average. that suggests a significant amount of plutonium is already in the sea. we need more research on this, too. cleaning up the designated zones isn't enough. we need to know if more's been contaminated. reporter: but few here are interested in discovering the truth. the fisherman and farmers would rather it be swept under the carpet, and so would the tourism industry. these holiday homes were built close to the contaminated area. it's unlikely that the buyers were told about the radioactive soil on their doorstep.
christopher: so, environmental activists ringing the nuclear alarm bells there, but the villagers of palomares are clearly keen to dismiss any danger of radioactive contamination. and we now want to know what you think -- fifty years on, is this all a case of much ado about nothing, or do the activists have a point? should we be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to discover and remove all traces of radioactive waste? send us your views and comments, via email or facebook. you'll find me on twitter, @springontheroad. as the cold war came to an end 25 years ago, eastern europe was still a key part of the soviet union's sphere of influence. bulgaria, for instance, was a close ally of russia, its huge neighbour just to the east across the black sea. today, of course, it's a member of the european union and also
of the western military alliance, nato. but many bulgarians, particularly in the country's east, still harbour warm feelings for their former russian allies. so nato's recent decision to station a us tank unit at the training base in novo selo has angered many locals. dw's frank höfling has more. reporter: this is a special day for stefka radilova. she's been fattening her only pig for a year. >> we make sausage, we make ham, and a few other things. and that feeds us for a year. reporter: all her male relatives have come to zheravna, a village in eastern bulgaria. the butcher is a neighbor. to mark the occasion, there's a glass of spirits with breakfast. it's rakia, distilled by stefka's husband todor. for the radilovs, this is supposed to be a day of celebration. but there's something bothering
stefka, the nato maneuvers taking place in the mountains nearby. >> they scare me -- they really do. russia is not a weak power -- it's strong. reporter: but the presence of american forces is supposed to give bulgarians a feeling of security. reporter: joey donado is here to protect bulgarians like the radilovs. the 24-year-old u.s. marine corps sergeant is part of a tank unit at the novo selo training ground. this is also a special day for him. he's taking part in nato field training exercises with bulgarian troops. they've been training for it for more than two months. >> we have a great training area that allows us to move around with our tanks, as well as bulgarian mechanized units. it's a wide-enough space that we can do it together instead of
one tank at a time or a few tanks at a time. reporter: he and the other infantry marines have been here since august. more american combat tanks arrived as reinforcements a few days ago. the nato mission here is open-ended. >> now the tanks are staying here. we'll be replaced, but the tanks are staying. reporter: the last time foreign combat tanks were permanently stationed on bulgarian soil was more than 70 years ago, when the soviet union occupied the country in the second world war. what's changed now is the russian annexation of crimea. nato aims to prevent similar moves in neighboring countries. >> this particular training exercise is part of this overall effort to send a strong signal of preparedness, readiness and resolve in the face of the challenges that we face on the eastern flank but also in the south.
reporter: the maneuver scenario today reflects that aim. the units are training how to repel an attempted invasion. it's this kind of saber-rattling that dismays stefka. >> i like the russians. they're christians like us. we lived under the turkish yoke for 500 years. the russians liberated us and that's reason enough to like them. reporter: many bulgarians would agree with her. russia and bulgaria share many linguistic and cultural similarities. it's no accident that all the dishes stefka is preparing are also part of russian cuisine. reporter: the historical ties to
russia are also apparent in bulgaria's military. almost all the equipment joey donado's bulgarian partners use, like these armored personnel carriers, is soviet-made. >> we see on pictures, and we learn about them, so it's interesting to actually see them in person and actually train with the people that work on them or that operate them. reporter: the mess hall serves only american cuisine. the base's television shows american sports events. joey delgado sees little of life off the base. >> yeah, so most of the time you're on base, but sometimes you do have an option to go out on the town on the weekends. reporter: but he rarely takes the opportunity. the military base is a familiar environment. and many us soldiers feel uneasy, given the open dislike of the nato maneuvers among the surrounding community. back in zheravna, stefka and her family feel the same way. the people gathered here say the maneuvers are an unnecessary
provocation for the russians. only the youngest one disagrees. he's the same age as joey the marine sergeant. >> my generation has shifted its focus to other countries -- england, for example. russia's fallen more by the wayside. reporter: he may be the only one at the table who isn't worried about the nato forces in the area. but stefka's grandson is still in the minority in bulgaria. christopher: as negotiators start haggling over a deal at the u.n. climate summit in paris, evidence is piling up that global warming is already affecting us. just a few hundred kilometres south-east of paris for instance, winemakers in burgundy are among those who feel threatened. they point to this past summer in france, an absolute scorcher, the second-hottest on record. too much heat, they explain,
means there's too much sugar in the grape. so, achieving that fine balance, that unmistakeable aroma of a glass of deep red burgundy is becoming increasingly difficult. reporter: it's a wine connoisseur's dream, some of the world's most costly wines are aging in these old wooden casks. burgundy is known for excellent red and white wines with an emphasis on quality, not quantity. the wine cellars look much as they did centuries ago. the aging process is also much the same. tradition is king. many vintner families take it for granted that the next generation will carry those traditions forward. henri perrot-minot has spent his life in the vineyards and wine cellars. he remembers the way things were in the past, and worries about the future of burgundy wine. for decades, he's been meticulously noting the starting
date of the annual grape harvest. in the 1970's and 1980's, it almost always began in october. >> in 2014, we started on september 17th. and this year? on september fifth. >> we've seen that the harvest is starting earlier every year. the grapes take 100 days to ripen. and now, the vines are starting to bud in the spring. reporter: the two vintners are satisfied with the 2014 vintage, despite their concerns about the earlier harvest. hot summers -- or any unsually hot temperatures -- affect the grapes. >> they burn, because it's too hot for them. >> they're baked in the sun when temperatures rise above 35 degrees celsius. we first noticed this in the
1990's, and i asked my grandfather about it. we thought it was some new disease. but it wasn't. reporter: extreme weather conditions are on the rise in france's wine-growing regions. these vines have survived heat waves, dry spells, hailstorms and downpours. when winters are mild, the vines have no chance to rest. the vintners have to adapt to the climate. >> as vintners, we've seen that climate change is making our weather much more extreme. there are drier spells, hotter ones and rainier ones. there's less mild weather of the kind we had thirty years ago. reporter: the winemakers here have concluded that if the weather is changing, the vines will need to adapt. they still prune the vines as they've done for centuries, but now they put little cuttings to one side for planting. that preserves the genetic resources of the vines.
it's hoped this might help burgundy's famous vines survive the effects of climate change. >> maybe some day, somebody'll find plants that are hardier and better able to resist diseases and parasites -- or the extreme dry spells and heat. reporter: the changes the vintners have observed the past thirty years have been scientifically verified. benjamin bois conducts measurements on a research farm at the university of burgundy, where every detail of the weather is recorded. climate change has caused the grapes to grow smaller and produce less juice and acids, but have a higher sugar content. >> we've recently found that, in the south of france and other southern regions, the grapes' sugar content is too high. we're seeing wines with 16% alcohol, and that's not necessarily what the consumer expects.
reporter: burgundy's wine merchants are also concerned. for decades, they've depended on vintners to produce wines in the same quantity and quality. 55% of the region's wines are exported. demand is growing, with countries like china, brazil and south korea increasingly discovering french wine. but after this year's hot summer, grapes in burgundy turned out smaller and had less juice, so the total yield was below normal. >> our customers expect outstanding chardonnay and pinot noir wines from us. burgundy is the home of these two world-famous varieties. our customers expect the characteristic qualities of our red and white wines. so far, the warmer climate hasn't affected the taste of our wines. but we have to take steps to preserve their unique quality. reporter: the vintners of
burgundy have reason to take pride in their wine. it's among the best in the world, and now it's even part of the unesco world heritage. and they want to keep it that way. ♪ christopher: global warming, it's time to stop it for the sake of french wine and everything else. that is all this week from "focus on europe." do send us your views and comments on on of the -- on any of the reports you have just seen. thanks for watching and see you soon. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
welcome to "newsline." it's tuesday, december 15th. i'm miki yamamoto in tokyo. u.s. president barack obama is taking a harder line on the group islamic state. he's been facing criticism for his strategy on the militants. now he says the u.s.-led military coalition will intensify the campaign. obama was briefed about the military operations at a national security council meeting at the pentagon. he said the coalition has been hitting the militants harder than ever. >> as we squeeze its heart, it will make it harder for isil to pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world. >> obama says the coalition has launched nearly 9,000 air strikes, killing militant leaders.